ROCKLAND, Maine — Hilery Hutchinson graduated from Rockland High School, but never expected to come back. After leaving the area for college, then some work with the NBA and at resorts in the Bahamas, she certainly didn’t think she’d return to a place she lived for a short stint during her teen years. But even when she was young, she had an inkling of what she wanted to do.

“I wrote my first business plan when I was 13 for a gymnastics studio. I had the floor plan and I priced everything out of catalogues. I always wanted a business, I guess,” said Hutchinson, the owner of Sphere in Rockland. ”But I didn’t write a business plan for this. We had no idea what it was going to be. It was up to Rockland.”

Sphere isn’t a typical gym setting with TVs, machines and fluorescent lights. The gym has two open hardwood-floor rooms in the second story of the Syndicate Block building on Main Street for classes. It also has one room full of stationary bikes.

“We have a great core group, about 90 percent of them are women, which is not typical,” she said. “Group exercise tends to attract more women. I think they feel more comfortable here. I mean, the YMCA intimidates me.”

Hutchinson was pretty sure she always wanted to own a business, but her dream of being a personal trainer didn’t come until later. In retrospect, it makes sense, she said. Throughout her life when other things went wrong, she always had fitness.

When Hutchinson was 6 years old, her father was diagnosed with brain cancer.

“He was given six months to live. He lived for 15 years,” she said. “He taught me determination. He swam and played basketball — all these things that people said he shouldn’t do, those things kept him going, I think.”

Her parents moved from her home in Tampa, Fla., to Maine where they could get veterans benefits.

When she was 13, puberty was rough. She grew faster than her body was ready for and it dislocated her joints. Her doctor prescribed a physical trainer.

“It fixed things for me. I’d been physically active throughout my life, and I’d been in the gym a lot, but I didn’t think that would be my life,” Hutchinson said.

But when her dad died of cancer when she was 21 and studying entrepreneurial studies in Boston, she switched gears and became a certified cancer exercise specialist so she could help people who finished physical therapy after cancer treatment, but still didn’t have full range of motion.

“You get closer to those clients than the average client. I’d have some clients sit and cry for half an hour and that’s what we would do that day. You have to be flexible. I really liked it,” she said.

One night when she was studying, taking a break from teaching fitness classes, a man entered her apartment and attacked her.

“I was just studying — not doing anything wrong — and a crack addict came into my house and went ballistic. It was hours of struggling and trying to calm him down,” she said. “When something goes wrong in my life I try to figure out what to learn from it. I didn’t know what to learn from this. I was home literally studying the greater good of the world. I decided it was time to break free and move to Miami. Within three months I was working for the NBA.”

It was a fun job being the on-call Thai massage therapist for the San Antonio Spurs, she said, but what was supposed to be an off-season-only job working at a yoga retreat in the Bahamas swept Hutchinson from the basketball team.

“I was so blissed out, I couldn’t go back,” she said.

It was there that she met her boyfriend at the time and they got the idea to open a gym. Hutchinson checked out spots in California and parts of Canada, expecting to find a place to settle, but it wasn’t until a trip through the midcoast on the way to see her mom in Houlton that she realized where she needed to be — Rockland. Since last October, Hutchinson has been spinning, running, weight lifting and leading yoga classes for about 40 hours every week — after her own 4 a.m. workouts, of course.

Hutchinson, 30, plans to expand the business to her home in Owls Head by adding an apartment for people from away to take retreats.

“I’m doing what I love and I love my clients,” she said. “It’s amazing to see results. Being physically fit changes everything. I hear my clients say, ‘Now I can hike a mountain with my kids, which I couldn’t do three months ago.’ Those stories make it all worthwhile,” she said.

For information contact Sphere at 691-8207 or